Sierra Meadows Wetland Riparian Area Monitoring

Sierra Meadows Wetland Riparian Area Monitoring

Home | Key Initiatives | Steward Source Water Areas | Sierra Meadows Wetland Riparian Area Monitoring

Project Goal:

CalTrout is leading a team of expert scientists with Sierra Meadows Partnership to develop and implement the first Sierra Meadows Wetland and Riparian Area Monitoring Plan (SM-WRAMP). The SM-WRAMP will provide an authoritative and collaborative approach to monitoring meadow conditions pre- and post-restoration. More importantly, the data collected will be done consistently across the Sierra Nevada, allowing regional comparisons and analyses not currently attainable. WRAMP data will assist land managers to understand current ecological conditions; provide the basis for determining the efficacy of meadow restoration, and improve scientific understanding of cause and effect relationships among key meadow attributes and restoration actions on a regional scale.

Learn More

Project Stages


Estimated Completion Date:

Project Funders

Kern Community Foundation
Wildlife Conservation Board

Fish Affected:


Project Description

Sierra Nevada headwaters provide roughly 60% of California’s domestic water supplies and are home to the majority of California’s inland native trout species. Covering less than 2 percent of the overall Sierra-Cascade landscape, meadows add resiliency to the hydrologic and ecological processes that sustain the headwaters of several major California water sources.

However, of the roughly 190,000 acres of meadows throughout the greater Sierra Nevada, an estimated 40-60 percent (approximately 90,000 acres) have been degraded primarily due to human activity. Collective research from the Sierra Meadows Partnership, led by CalTrout and funded through CDFW, has discovered that functional meadows switch from net carbon absorbers to carbon emitters when they become degraded and unhealthy. Because wet meadow plants like sedges and rushes absorb more carbon than sagebrush and other dry meadow vegetation types, they act as carbon sinks.

By considering both climate restoration and source water protection, this research addresses two of the most important threats to California salmonids as stated in the SOS II report. In summer 2020, CalTrout and Sierra Meadows partners piloted the SM-WRAMP protocols in Horse Meadow, and the protocols and guidance document are now ready for use in spring 2021. The SM-WRAMP provides standardized monitoring protocols that are needed by land managers to determine restoration needs, evaluate restoration efficacy, and inform adaptive management actions

The goal in implementing the SM-WRAMP is to accelerate our understanding of meadow restoration benefits and allow us to better quantify and articulate the ecosystem services provided by healthy meadows to all beneficiaries.

Project Partners:

California Tahoe Conservancy
Trust for Public Lands
Sierra Foothills Conservancy
US Fish & Wildlife Service
National Fish & Wildlife Foundation
Occidental Arts and Ecology Center
Feather River Land Trust
Point Blue Conservation
Sierra Fund
South Yuba River Citizens League
CA Dept. of Fish & Wildlife
US Forest Service
Stillwater Sciences
Institute for Bird Populations
University of Nevada, Reno
UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences
UC Merced
American Rivers
Plumas Corps
Truckee River Watershed Council
Trout Unlimited
The Nature Conservancy
Todd Sloat Biological Consulting
Sabra Purdy Consulting
National Forest Foundation

More Initiative Projects